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Crews scramble to douse lightning sparked fires, expect more

Published July 23, 2013 8:48 am

Red Flag Warning • West desert at high risk with dry thunderstorms, hot temperatures.
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Firefighters on Tuesday scrambled to hem in lightning ignited flames even as they braced for what could be an explosive wildfire situation on the state's Pioneer Day holiday.

A Red Flag Warning was in place into early Wednesday for the western desert, from Nephi south to Manti, west through Delta to the Utah-Nevada border, and to just north of Milford.

Dry thunderstorms were expected to produce lightning throughout the Red Flag area, and with grasses and forests parched, the danger of potentially explosive wildfires was high. Pioneer Day fireworks also worried firefighters.

The Rocky Fire, having burned 445 acres of juniper, sagebrush, pinyon pine and grasses in northwestern Utah's Box Elder County, was fully contained Tuesday night.

In eastern Utah, fire crews attacked the Goslin Fire, mostly from the air. The lightning-sparked blaze started Monday afternoon. Cheryl Nelsen, the manager of the Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center, said four single engine air tankers along with one lead plane and a helicopter had been dousing the 200-acre fire throughout the day Tuesday. Officials were hoping at least two 20-person hand crews would be fighting the fire from the ground by Wednesday.

The fire was contained to the south side of Goslin Mountain in the Ashley National Forest, and no structures were threatened, Nelsen said.

Meantime, Fire Information Officer Adam Solt said the 40-acre Aspen Springs Fire, burning in brush and grass 2 miles east of Spring City on private land, was 95 percent contained.

"The fire isn't that active today, mostly just smoldering and occasional torching of a bush here and there," Solt said.

The cause of that blaze, which began on Sunday, was undetermined, but full containment was expected Wednesday, Solt said.

Kimball Bennion and Erin Alberty contributed to this report.


Twitter: @remims




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